Down Memory Lane   - George B. Simpson, Sturgis News, Wed 26 August 1998

Alone on a charging horse--
holding to the flying mane and
hanging on for dear life;
across the green fields and
by the great forest, on and on
the land lay flat, the hills
were behind -- it was all flat
and the horses gathered and ran and
lathered and the lads yelled and cursed and
sang out; and the unknown lay ahead
on the far side of the corn field and
stalk field;
and the lads and men of gray and black and
home-spun -- laced their legs tightly
to the stirrups and hands clasped the
reins and guns were held on straps or in
holsters and all were ready or thought so,
then the enemy fired and gray puffs of
smoke showed itselves; and the balls
whined and cut and maimed and mauled and
sliced and gouged and lifted and broke and burst
on the Confederate boys and men and some fell and some
winced, and some jolted to a stop, and some
moaned their last and gasped for breath and some
felt the blood run from their wounds and
they lay helpless on the ground and in the
stalk field.

        It was over for the boy Samuel Withers; his leg wound ran bloody and his leg throbbed and hurt and he was hobbled; but the boys went on into the fair city (Uniontown) and they won the day -- if one can say that you win in war without a price.

        Now he was down, and they poured salt water and all manner of medicine onto his leg and bound up the hole and bloody mess.  Yes, yes, they had won the day, but at what bloody price?  And so back to the home base, to the old cabin, the old family, the old well, the old fireside, to heal and to hobble and to hassle and to humble to Blue coat for just a moment. By and by --salt, and sugar and vinegar and hard liquor and pure clean spring water healed the old deep leg wound; and he could walk again, hoe corn, and hoe the garden, cut wood and set fences and amble about the ride -- yes, ride -- like the wind. Lean and strong and light and wiry, and broken and straightened -- he could still ride and mount and clear the pasture fences in a bound and jump.  A southern horseman -- raised in the saddle, raised to ride, raised to hunt, raised to jump, raised to take mile after mile in stride. At 20 or 30 miles per hour a horseman could out-flank and out-gain the slow slugging footman. Why walk when you can ride and make your mark?

        But mounts grow tired and their flesh drops off and they pant and become sore-footed and hungry and water-hungry. And by and by they must be down in green pastures by the still waters to restore their spirit and flesh. And so, by July 3 and 4, 1863, they crossed the old Ohio from Kentucky into Indiana. And, with the General at the lead, they drove for the Ohio border and Pennsylvania. But it was not to be. The Indiana militia and Union regulars and mounted Union men on fresh mounts with repeating rifles caught them up and herded them into a river bend and there the great gun boats pounded them with big cannon and fierce shot and cutting loads; and thus, the fierce horseman did pass down the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio, as prisoners in long, gray lines -- tried, broken, exhausted, sick, miserable, wounded, hungry, thirsty, down-hearted, crushed and beaten, they began to recover their spirit.  Their little band of warriors had out-rose and out-fought an Army 1000 times their number.

        And though the years pass in swift succession, the band of horseman ride high across the silver clouds of the midnight sky and bask in the rays of the full moon, never the world saw such raw patriots before or since -- in slendid spirit and courage.  Silence then with all your modern noise -- and salute the past and gone warriors who knew not the word cawardice and lived and died for what they understood was the right.

        We search history for the consistency and sence, but sometimes there is none.

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